It was good to be able to wake up and sort out some porridge for breakfast in the room today. Finally we both seemed to be over the jet lag. It had only taken 12 days. We were soon all packed and ready to go as we knew we had a long drive ahead and that our first stop was to be in Whanganui itself.
Our intention was to go to and up the Durie Hill Elevator. This was set into the side of Durie Hill. However there was no car park at the bottom and without realising it we drove straight to the top. Although it was only a $2 fee, there seemed little point going down only to come straight back up again. The most interesting part was apparently the 200m tunnel that you had to walk through to get into the lift at the bottom. We decided it was not worth the effort especially as standing directly behind us was the memorial tower that was much higher and also free to climb.
As it had 175 steps, Karen decided not to risk her knee so early in the day so I climbed the 175 steps alone. I chose to ignore the notice as I went in saying that the tower was not earthquake proof. It’s not as if NZ has had 226000 recorded earthquakes in the last decade or anything. I suppose if you live here you must be weary of them and blasé all at the same time. I had to pause for breathe a couple of times climbing up but the view was worth it. The walls at the top were quite high meaning I still had to stretch to see over them and to wave down to Karen.
Once at the bottom we started the day's drive in earnest. Once again the radio kept dipping out and so we listened to the latest Danny Baker podcast which had us both chuckling along.
The roads were again difficult as we crossed a series of mountain ranges. They were though almost completely deserted. We could be driving for about 20 minutes before seeing another car in either direction. We also mused over the lack of sheep. I always expected the fields to contain millions of them but there were only a few every now and then. The ones we saw had all recently been shorn. There were barely enough though to keep Glenn in Lamb Chops on one of his Lanzarote trips.
One of the old adages is 'Buy Cheap Buy Twice’. This was certainly proving the case with the Sat Nav. As I mentioned previously I bought it for £30 on eBay. It came with the up to date maps for NZ & Australia and the receipt from when the person had bought on a trip to NZ last October. My plan is to use it and then immedaitely sell it again. The problem is that it is a Navman and not a Garmin or TomTom. I think Navman might be the same as Betamax. It sort of does the job but not quite. To be fair the routes it has taken us have been fine and essentially that is all that it is needed for. It is just basic though. It has no ability to remember places you have put in previously, so you end up having to re-input them each time which is annoying when you are trying to get back to the Hotel you may only have left 20 minutes ago. The sound quality is awful and sometimes we end up saying to each other ‘what did she say’? It is not helped by the pronunciation which is woeful. Today she told me to turn right past the ‘Pee trol’ station. Finally the screen mount is poor and it doesn’t hold the device in one position. Apart from all this it been great. I know I could and should be using my phone but I like to keep that as backup and didn’t have a mount point to attach it to the screen.
The drive took us past a mountain that still had plenty of snow on the top and more worryingly another volcano looking mountain that had steam coming out of holes near the top.
After being on the road for a good couple of hours we drove through a one horse town called Waioru and decided to stop for a drink. The drinks were fine but we didn’t fancy any of the food on offer. Instead we drove onto Tokaanu which was a scenic lookout off the road overlooking Lake Taupo in the distance. It was stunning sitting in the glorious sunshine at the handily provided bench having our picnic lunch. There is something about the freshness and cleanliness of the NZ air that I have not known anywhere else in the world, including Norfolk which obviously has the best of everything.
A little further down the road we stopped again at Turangi choosing the Hydro Cafe to have another drink. Karen had a tea whilst I had a bottle of Coke Zero. It was a proper coke bottle but it came with a twist top lid instead of a cap of all things. I have never had one of those before, what will these Kiwis think of next?
We then drove the last 30 miles arriving at our Motel room in Taupo for the night just before 4pm. It had been a long drive and as we had a garden suite I availed myself of it for 30 minutes backing in the sun on the patio with a well earned cuppa.
The motel was close to the Lake and town centre and so we decided to walk and explore. We had passed through here on our last trip and wished we had had more time here. The Lake looked resplendent in the sunshine. It reminded us somewhat of Lake Tahoe. There were a pleasing number of people around as well. As we walked along the Lake we came across a Golf Hole. Well we could see the Golf Hole which was on a pontoon about 100 yards in the lake. For $25 you could have 30 balls and try and land it on the pontoon. It was quite windy which did not help and you obviously had to carry the ball the entire way and be extremely accurate. I was not confident of either and so passed on the opportunity. Apparently on average someone does it every fortnight. Each morning the owners snorkel out and retrieve all the balls which lay on the sand and can be easily seen in the crystal clear water of the Lake. It was fun watching people have a try though.
After a quick wander around town we decided to find the supermarket to get some provisions for tomorrow. It was on the outskirts of town and a fair walk but we managed it. As we were out we decided to get something to eat rather than going back and coming out again. A long discussion was then had as to what we fancied. We concluded that we both really fancied a Roast but that was not on offer in Taupo. Initially we thought we would just get a takeaway but once in the KFC we both changed our mind. Instead we went next door to The Coffee Club which we found also served meals. We both fancied and ordered a Chicken Caesar salad. We both agreed it was possibly the best meal of the trip. It was made even better by being able to eat it outside in the sunshine overlooking the Lake. The service was really good as well.
On the way back to the Motel we had the obligatory photo with the ‘Love Taupo’ sign. Back at the motel Karen took advantage of the Laundry facilities which were opposite of our room. And after a little bit of pottering about in our room another day was over.